An on demand based sorting center

Managing a sorting center with 50 to 500 discharge gutters (chutes) can be very demanding. Is finding the right chute layout an ongoing challenge in your operation? So was our customer, a large European parcel sorting company.

Client situation

Depending on the supply of parcels and the growing number of delivery methods, reorganizing chutes and containers is a time-consuming process. Because optimal chute assignment becomes harder with the increasing amount of products, it is difficult to frequently change the assignment manually . This results in more-or-less static chute assignments, which decreases productivity and efficiency over time.
As each chute represents a postcode area, possible consequences are delays in sorting and delivery and the need for more space to temporarily store parcels. While this static layout of chutes may have been sufficient in the past years, the increase in delivery methods such as evening delivery, delivery to retail, delivery to parcel machines or registered delivery, dynamically studying and adjusting chute mapping layouts becomes a must for the efficiency of a modern sorting center.

Challenge: making the sorting process more flexible

Our customer approached us with the question how to make this process more flexible.
Our Smart Integration Management (SIM) software is designed to make the sorting process more flexible and especially smarter. We developed the Automatic Chute Mapping solution to redesign the layout of the chutes. For most operators using parcel sorters, there are not enough chutes for every product and destination. Parcels need to be put into the right container at the chute, which represents the final sorting destination based on features such as the postal code, country, and specials. Deciding how to organize the containers per chute is difficult and time consuming, because operators have to take many criteria into account, for example: postal code ranges for containers at the same chute should not overlap, travel distance to the loading dock should be close, not too many containers should be used per chute, the load per chute should be more or less uniform.

How it works

Based on smart algorithms, – using highly sophisticated mathematical optimization tooling – and the data read from the parcels, the layout of the chutes and containers can be automatically optimized, which improves the sorting process. Combined with our OCR readers, the belt capacity increases. Especially when our Customs Vision solution is added to your scan systems, even poorly addressed parcels from China are sorted with a high accuracy.

Results achieved

Our customer was happy with the implementation of our Automatic Chute Mapping solution. “Previously, we experienced a 10% failure rate in sorting. Those parcels continued rotating on the sorting belt. After implementing Prime Vision’s OCR reader, the failures decreased to only 7%. In our center, we process 11.000 parcels per hour, 5 hours per day. The 3% lower failure rate means 1650 parcels don´t need manual sorting. The OCR reader saves us a lot of time and money.”

Benefits of the Automatic Chute Mapping solution:

  • Maximization of efficiency, create a ‘chute and container mapping’ that results in the shortest processing time in total;
  • No overlap in postal code ranges of the different products being sorted to the same chute;
  • Minimization of total load and travel distance of containers from chutes to loading spots.

Equalization of loads over chutes;

Equalization of the number of products that are sorted to chutes that need to be sorted again;
Minimization of changes in assignment in relation to current assignment;
Less manual sorting thanks to improved OCR recognition of parcels;
Better use of sorting area with dynamic chute layout;
Higher capacity of sorting belt.


A sorting center designed with a manually generated layout of chutes was sufficient until now. We expect growing need for more optimal sorting centers in the future as a result of the constant changing supply of parcels and the increasing number of delivery methods.

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